The Carole King Musical
The cast and team behind a new UK tour of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical let us know what audiences can expect when the show visits Plymouth’s Theatre Royal this September.
It’s safe to say that these last few years have been challenging, but a new UK tour of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is set to brighten spring days when it visits the Theatre Royal Bath this March.
“It’s very exciting,” says Molly-Grace Cutler, who plays legendary singer-songwriter Carole King in the Curve, Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Mayflower Theatre Southampton co-production which is coming to Plymouth’s Theatre Royal from 20th - 24th September.
For the very first time, the Grammy, Olivier and Tony Award-winning show is performed by a cast of actor-musicians who play every instrument in the show, as well as acting, singing and dancing. “It’s never been done like this before so it’s great to be able to do it in a way that I think – and I hope – will make Carole proud,” says Cutler, adding, “it feels so much more authentic to the story and really truthful to Carole and Gerry and everyone involved.”
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from selling her first song while she was still at school and having a baby at 18, to her years writing chart-topping songs with first husband Gerry Goffin, to becoming one of the most successful solo artists in popular music history.
"What’s so striking about the show and Carole King’s body of work is that you don’t realise what a massive Carole King fan you are..."
The production is directed by Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, whose recent credits include the five-star successes of A Chorus Line, West Side Story and the streamed production of Sunset Boulevard – at Home.
“What’s so striking about the show and Carole King’s body of work is that you don’t realise what a massive Carole King fan you are,” explains Nikolai Foster. “This show is hit after hit after hit, of course not all originally performed by Carole but mostly written by her. It’s a joy to discover we’re all such Carole King fans!”
For Cutler, King’s music has played a role in her life since she was a child. “I’m a big fan. I have her Tapestry album on vinyl. It was a present to me a long time ago from my grandad and I have very much had that on repeat for my entire life.”
King’s road to stardom was far from straightforward. The songwriter faced turbulent relationships and a fiercely competitive music industry, all whilst also raising young children. The details of King’s life, which are explored in the production, came as a shock to the cast in rehearsals. “I was very aware of Carole and her writing because she’s a legend and her songs are amazing,” says Cutler, “but in terms of her actual life and the things that she went through I didn’t know a lot at all.”
Considering how these experiences shaped King as a songwriter Cutler adds, “I think it really emphasises and highlights what a strong person she was and how her incredible her mind was to be able to take such negative moments and turn them into the beautiful songs that people relate to, to this day.”
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical is filled with hits including ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, ‘Take Good Care of my Baby’, ‘Up on The Roof’, ‘The Locomotion’, ‘You’ve Got a Friend’, ‘One Fine Day’, ‘It Might as Well Rain Until September’ and many more. King’s music is brought to life on stage with orchestrations by Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell, adapted by Tony Award-winning Musical Supervisor Sarah Travis.
It's an approach that Sarah Travis, a lifelong fan of King’s music, relishes. “In a conventional show you'd have the cast on stage and the band in a pit, but we don't hide anything; the drum booth is at the back of the stage, we've got pianos on stage, we've got guitars, we've got everything in front of the audience, so they see the nuts and bolts of it.”
Guitar player Tom Milner, who takes on the role of Carole’s former husband and collaborator Gerry Goffin, is in awe of his fellow cast members. “There’s people playing five different instruments. That’s worth its ticket money already - seeing someone being able to run from a drum kit and then jump on a glockenspiel!”
"I think it really emphasises and highlights what a strong person she was and how her incredible her mind was to be able to take such negative moments and turn them into the beautiful songs that people relate to, to this day."
Earlier this year Carole King celebrated her 80th birthday and, whilst she now spends her days on her Idaho ranch, the singer songwriter is still going strong. Last year King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a performer and she has recently written a new song with Jennifer Hudson and Jamie Hartman for the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect.
So, just how does it feel to be playing a bonafide living legend? “Very intimidating to say the least!” admits Cutler, “but at the same time really nice because we get to pay homage to someone who is still here and still incredible.”
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical appears at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from 20th - 24th September. To find book tickets click on the link below.